ITEM! You know some days I barely have time to sit down and catch my breath from all the signing of media deals, licensing agreements, and assorted other lucrative legalese and leases. But yesterday I finally had a moment and decided to pop my promo copy of the Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes (The Complete First Season) DVD into my poolside media system and check out a few eps. Believe it or not, pilgrims, just because I’m listed in the credits as Co-Executive Producer doesn’t mean I’ve ever actually watched the show before now... leastways not that I remember. You know how it goes...
Turns out what we have here are all 26 episodes, eight of which never aired in the U.S. thanks to some bone-headed programming decisions at the Cartoon Network. I think they got burned by the plumeting ratings from their various Brand Echh cartoons and decided to clear out all the capes at once. But of the four cartoon versions of the FF to date, this one is easily your Uncle Stanley’s favorite, if only for the rockin’ theme music! Once I got past the French/Japanese anime art direction of the series, which I’ve had to do anyway to work on Ultimo with Hiroyuki Takei, the Smilin’ One was totally into it, as the kids say these days. Really, after you get used to Johnny’s Astro-Boy astro-turf haircut and Ben having the circle-four symbol spay-painted on his chest and everyone having chins that could split wood, this series is fantastic! This is the FF that we all wanted to see in those two movies. Lotsa action - check! Family dynamic - check! Ben and Johnny constantly banging on each other - check! Reed inventing one crazed Kirbyesque techno-solution after another - check! Impossible Man? Checkerino! Kree... Skrulls... and of course Doc Doom... what’s not to love?
After I dove into the diligent DVD extras I understood what was ringing so duly for Yours Truly in all of this — the showrunners at Moonscope loved the original Lee-Kirby run of the series, and — modernizations and stylistic choices aside — hewn pretty closely to the classic originals in spirit and scope. In fact, why not enjoy one of Irving Forbush’s embedded linky things and watch a few minutes for yourself? Then go out next Tuesday (June 10) and catch your copious copy of this cosmic cartoon collection before they’re all calamitously confiscated! Enjoy!